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Thread: Emotional Reaction to Music -- How Common?

  1. #21
    Moderator andyg's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Newhaven, UK
    Quote Originally Posted by organhobbyist98 View Post
    For me, playing the organ is as natural as breathing. When I play, I just get lost in the music. My hands "melt" into the keys and I feel like my organ and I become one.
    Nicely put, Denise.

    You're not alone. I'm sure many of us feel the same way. I certainly do, more so playing organ than any other instrument. It can be any kind of music and the feelings produced inside can vary from exhileration and joy to deep sadness. It's the sad ones that usually get me the most - Grieg's 'Death of Ase', or Khachaturian's 'Gayaneh's Dance' for example. Here's the Roland's version and it gets me every time I sit and play it.

    Sure, those two will also affect me just by listening to an orchestra playing them, but playing them myself has a deeper connection. My organ mentors also mentioned years ago that I always put that extra 'something' into playing and it's something that I now recognise in some of my students. They too 'get lost' in the music.
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

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  2. #22
    mp Mezzo-Piano Sathrandur's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    Victoria, Australia
    I never got near fainting, but I can get emotional. When I hear something amazing I usually get overwhelmed by a feeling of not knowing how to process what I am feeling. In these cases I am compelled to go and purchase a recording of whatever I have heard (assuming I don't have one already). My poor wife then often has to listen to me monologue while I try to verbalise how sublime the music is and the various emotions elicited and how I just don't know how to process such music!

    A few very memorable examples. In 2013 I took my sister to a performance of Verdi's Requiem conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Now I assume you are all mostly familiar with the 'Tuba Mirum' section that uses the off-stage trumpets (with the trumpeters up over the highest seats at the sides of the auditorium). Well, I was very glad that I had purchased seats in the best part of the house (and they were not cheap) because I have never experienced anything like that ever. Surround sound at the movies had nothing on this - I felt completely immersed in the music like it was flowing all around me. Inexplicably exciting. I would love to go and listen to a live performance again.

    I remember the first time I listened to that famous CD recorded at Notre-Dame, Paris 'Grandes Heures Liturgiques'. The one with Jéhan Revert and Pierre Cochereau. Right at the start with the 'Te Deum' I was awe-struck. I listened to that so many times! I remember pacing up and down the lounge room trying to process such music - my poor wife having to listen!

    And the piano trio by Smetana. I thought it was beautiful music when I first heard it. Afterward I had read about how his daughter had died and how the music right at the end of the final movement possibly portrays him imagining his reunion with her in the hereafter. When I went back and listened to it again it drew perhaps an even greater emotional response - this time with tears. Powerful music.

    I think most persons are affected by music - just look at how big the popular music industry is. But while there are a small group of those out there who are not moved by music, I suspect there is an equally small group that are intractably affected by it as well. I think most people are in the middle - they enjoy music but are not moved by it beyond some rhythmically-generated excitement.

  3. #23
    p Piano Ben Madison's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
    To me it depends on two factors.
    Current Mood.
    Mood of the piece.

    for example Albinoni "Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Pipe organ", superb piece slow with much emotion yet I feel a sense of sadness Edit Post on the flip side Bizet's "L'ABLESSIENE SUITE NO. 1: ADAGIETO" calms me down and lets me relax from the high paced world.

    I think you have to have an acquired taste in music, its like tasting fine food, and you have to have that emotion in order to bring out the best in a piece as well.
    Last edited by Ben Madison; 12-05-2017 at 07:01 PM.

  4. #24
    pp Pianissimo Dogstar's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    North Ga.
    I ran into a song that affected me deeply at a memorial service recently. Title escapes me now but it contained thoughts on arriving in heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God's. Even writing those words affects me now. It brought back vivid memories of my late wife.

    I have been working on learning Bach's, Come Sweet Death, for some time now. That affects me more some days than others. A handkerchief handy is a good idea. The adagio from BWV 564 affects me that way also.
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  5. #25
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Arkansas, USA
    I could be just getting weepy in my old age. After the near collapse I experienced on Trinity Sunday at St. Paul's, I have had a number of other very emotional reactions to music. And sometimes it's the oddest sort of music that brings on such an attack.

    My little choir, being relatively untrained and certainly not accustomed to the "real" classical literature, loves to do a Christmas Musical every year. So we normally start working on one in September for presentation sometime during Advent. I know some of you (and other musician friends I have) would be aghast at the idea, but I generally purchase a "packaged" musical from Lifeway or Brentwood-Benson. These popular-styled Christmas musicals include glossy new arrangements of traditional Advent and Christmas songs, with a generous sprinkling of blue-grassy, contemporary, Southern Gospel, and other popular genres. And they are intended to be sung with the included orchestral track, which is in fact quite astoundingly good. These publishing houses have some incredibly good musical arrangers and conductors and players at their disposal, and every year they offer something new and fresh. And the track, which comes in digital format, sounds marvelous played back through a massive sound system (I use the organ's amps and speakers, so you can imagine what a nice quality of sound it is.)

    So, even though I don't think of this as "great" music in the sense of "historic" or "timeless" or majestic, I do in fact come to love and enjoy the selections in these little musicals by the time we rehearse them for a few weeks.

    So this year, there are a couple of songs in the program that simply wipe me out, and I'm going to need to work hard to keep myself from melting down when we do the program. One of them is "Strange Way to Save the World." And the other is "One King." Both are from the popular genre for sure, but the messages are quite profound in their own way.

    So I'm certainly not a worship snob. I'm just a bit weepy!
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  6. #26
    mf Mezzo-Forte AllenAnalog's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Denver, Colorado
    An interesting and wonderfully complex topic that I've been reading and pondering since this thread was started. Age has certainly made me more susceptible to an emotional reaction to music but I can remember events from my younger days that are still quite fresh in my mind because they were so transformational.

    For me it is some magical combination of the musical score, the performance and the sound, along with my emotional state at the time. I never know when the threshold will be crossed to bring that feeling to my chest and the tears forming in my eyes. I've been to many live concerts, organ and orchestral, that left me thinking afterwards, "OK, that was nice." with no particular emotional affect. So it is not an everyday occurrence for me.

    One of my first recollections of a very powerful emotional reaction was walking down the aisle of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, listening to the Reginald Foort touring Moller organ for the first time in its permanent home. It had been restored and installed by my good friends David Junchen and Steve Adams and they invited me to a private concert played by a mutual friend for a small group of us during a convention I was attending in LA.

    I don't remember the music being played but by the time I got three quarters of the way to the front of the auditorium I had to stop, put my hand on a seat back to steady myself and then wipe away the tears so my friends did not see me weeping. The sound was like nothing I had ever heard before, despite having listened to many Wurlitzers and other theater organs over the previous years. The combination of the voicing and the way the sound emanated from the shallow, wide chambers just made the music our friend was playing sound extraordinary to me.

    Another moment of great emotion was during an after-hours concert on the Wanamaker organ. It was the dedication of the restored and relocated Orchestral Division and I was seated to the rear on the main floor. Now I have hundreds of hours of listening time for that particular instrument, having worked for many years on the Light Show and helped with some organ work. But that night was magical as we all heard the long-silenced division of Kimball pipe work being played by Peter Conte with some of his sensitive orchestral transcriptions arranged and registered to showcase those wonderful orchestral ranks.

    Even recordings and YouTube videos can trigger my reaction, not just live performances. Tom Hazelton, someone I knew only slightly but revered as an organist, played a concert on the Moller in the Philadelphia Convention Center for the ATOS. The recording was released on CD and while not the best sound, it carries enough of the energy and magic of that concert to evoke a reaction in me. My subsequent work with the American Organ Institute exposed me to the 14 ranks of that instrument that they have playing on campus but I look forward to hearing all of it playing again some day.

    Most of the time I can't identify exactly what pushes me over the boundary but I know it can include information I know about the composer, the performer, the space or the instrument. Jehan Alain's music is a favorite of mine (although I prefer slower renditions of it so I can savor the notes and harmonies) and I can't help feeling some melancholy, thinking about what more he would have composed had his life not been cut short during WW2.

    The Contrebombarde Concert Hall site has provided me with many hours of listening to organ works that I had never heard or heard of before. Some of the performances move me into that emotional state and I wonder how such beautiful pieces of music could have been lost to time until brought back to life by the skilled organists who contribute their work for all to enjoy.

    Main: Allen RMWTHEA.3 with Rocky Mount piano, Allen 423-C + Gyro cabinet, Britson Opus OEM38, Saville Series IV Opus 209, Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI, Moller Artiste organ roll player
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  7. #27
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Arkansas, USA
    Great stories, Larry! I think you've hit upon many of the same things that evoke that response in me. It's wonderful to be able to make that connection with the music, the instrument, the sounds, the composer, the performer, even the historical context. All of those things certainly enter into one's emotional response, along with other, more personal factors that are often unpredictable.
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches

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